Waitangi Tribunal could use 'full' power for first time

2:52 pm on 20 December 2016

The Waitangi Tribunal could use its power to make binding recommendations for the first time.

09082016. Photo Rebekah Parsons-King. Pike River families want mine's CEO to face charges. Court of Appeal Wellington.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The Court of Appeal has ordered it to rehear applications for such recommendations on the treaty settlement claims of Far North iwi Ngāti Kahu and the East Coast Mangatu Incorporation.

Te Rūnanga-ā-Iwi o Ngāti Kahu chief executive Ānahera Herbert-Graves said up until now, the tribunal had been too nervous to make binding recommendations - but she hoped that was about to change.

"It has never actually used its power to the full, and the reason it hasn't done that is because it has been under threat from successive governments and threatened with abolition if it did use those powers."

Ms Herbert-Graves said having the High Court and now the Court of Appeal find in their favour was like getting an early Christmas present.

"The Waitangi Tribunal had already been ordered to rehear our application for binding recommendations and now when it does rehear our claims it must give us a decision on whether or not it will give us binding recommendations.

"It cannot avoid giving us a decision as it has in the past."

The Waitangi Tribunal can make binding recommendations when a claimant group has made well-founded claims for the return of certain Crown-owned lands.

A spokesperson from Crown Law said Crown lawyers were considering the decision but could not comment on whether there would be an appeal.